Sunday, November 15, 2009

Catching Airplanes

I used to have this one quirk that girls would find cute. Either that, or they’d slowly back away from me before turning around and running. See, I remember someone telling me that if you caught a hundred airplanes and kept them in your hand, you’d get to make a wish. For years, I thought it was my cousin who taught me that, but when she caught me reaching up into the sky and pretending to catch a passing airplane with my hand, well... let’s just say she didn’t find it cute.

I carried on that small game well into my college years, and a little beyond that. So long as I heard the din of an airplane engine, I’d look to the sky and search for the source. If I found it, I’d catch it and say what number that plane was, just to remind myself of how many more I needed for a wish.

I’ve caught enough airplanes in my life to make three wishes, and they’ve all come true. My first hundred-airplane wish was, quite sappily, made for my girlfriend. I wished for her happiness. Considering that the girl is my ex now, I probably should’ve just wished for a Playstation 3.

The next two wishes were more of a reflection of my life and troubles. Going to college without any way of paying the tuition is a really tough thing to do, even with scholarships that improved from partial ones to a full one. There came a time when my family was having trouble scrounging up 5000 pesos to pay for my tuition backlog from my partial scholarship days. It was pretty depressing, realizing that the thing I wished most for was the chance to enrol for the coming semester. Thankfully, though, things worked out and I got through college.

I don’t really catch airplanes anymore. I still do it occasionally, but I never hunt down the planes I hear in the sky. And when I do, I’m never really that sure about how many I’ve caught since my last hundred a year ago. It’s always somewhere around 74-77, give or take a couple of planes.

I was thinking about why I don’t catch airplanes anymore, when it hit me – I would do it in times of unhappiness. I mean, although my ex really is a nice person, she was making me unhappy with myself. She never really let me be the goofy, quirky, corny geek that I am. In fact, she made me feel ashamed of it, mostly because she was ashamed of me. I never really admit it to myself until recently, but the way she was trying to turn me into a douche to “make me better” spoke volumes about how she didn’t really like who I was as a person. Deep inside, I think I knew that for most of the time we were together. My wish for her, if I remember right, went something like this – “I wish for her happiness, even if it didn’t include me”. I imagine I thought myself selfless at the time, but maybe there was more to that thought than I realized.

The other two hundred were self-explanatory. There are few things that are as depressing as being in education limbo, never knowing if you were still going to school until days after the regular enrolment period. I swear my children (if I ever have them) will never, ever have to go through what I had to go through.

Maybe I’m overthinking my past here, but it kinda makes sense to me. I mean, don't we all make wishes when we want something missing from our lives? Maybe I was subconsciously wishing for some actual happiness. I’ll probably never really know why I started catching those airplanes when I did. I’ll never know for certain if I really was doing it to maximize my chances of finding happiness, or if I’m just making these connections up because I’m way too introspective for my own good. I can’t go back in time and ask my old self about this.

I can, however, pinpoint the time where I cut down on the airplane-catching – sometime between January and February 2009. If you know me and my story, you’ll probably see why.

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